Thursday, February 25, 2010

Breakast With The Birds

I know that sitting quietly in the woods can be a great way to observe birds and wildlife but staying still is not something that comes naturally to me. I'm always on the move during the work week so it takes some self-discipline for me to hike out in the woods and sit in one spot for any length of time.

On Saturday morning I visited
River Highlands State Park in Cromwell. I sat with my back against a tree as I ate my breakfast sandwich and took my time drinking a large coffee. That was my way of making myself keep still. I watched and listened as the Juncos, Tufted Titmice, and Black-capped Chickadees moved about busily in the woods around me. Other birds in the area included: Golden-crowned kinglets, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, and American Robins.
Less than a half hour went by before my patience was rewarded. First, a Pileated Woodpecker landed in the top of a tall tree to rip out a few chunks before flying off. The highlight of my morning was when a Barred Owl (above) which landed landed in a tree about 30 feet away and only about 8 feet off the ground. We sat and looked at each other for the next 20 minutes. I knew that it saw me but did not seem threatened by my presence in any way. It was one of those special moments that will remain etched in my memory.
I spent December and January finding as many species of birds as I could during Christmas counts and Big January. From now until Spring I'm not concerned with how many birds I see, only how well I see them.
There are several short trails in River highland Park which lead you through ravines and streams like this one. The nice part about it is that they all lead you back to the main trail so you don't have to worry about getting lost.
There were good numbers of White-breasted Nuthatches in the park. I never complain about seeing to many nuthatches. I like the way they pose in interesting positions.
I tried to make conversation with one of the local snowmen but was met with a cold shoulder.
He was nice enough to point out the Connecticut River to me. There is a bluff that sits as high as 150 feet above the water and follows the river for a long stretch with continuous views along the way.
Its surprising how comfortable wildlife is around you when you are a visitor instead of an intruder. The chipmunk looked me right in the eye before crawling inside this tree hole.
I'm not sure if this one is happy or sad. I wonder what it would say if it really could talk? I'll bet that trees would have some interesting stories to tell.
I've been struggling to find the time and ambition to post anything lately due to my busy work schedule. I'll probably start blogging more often once Spring arrives. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy my weekend woodland walks while waiting and wondering when the winter will wane.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

We're all waiting for winter to end this year. It's sure been a long, tough one.

That said, I think this is the nicest post I've read in ages. A great collection of beautiful photos and a neat narrative that pulled it together.

Kim said...

You got some good shots there Larry. LOVE the Barred Owl. I am so looking forward to spring right about now!

Chris said...

Hi Larry,
i'm getting the same problem when I'm birding or taking pictures. it is quite hard for me to stand still and wait for the bird to come. I like to walk and look for them... And standing still means that you know their habit and know where they will come. I love your chipmunk picture. I've never seen them but they look really cute!

Jayne said...

Well, heck... I just need to sit at the base of a tree and eat a breakfast sandwich! WOW! How neat that the owl came to say hello. :c)

Dan Huber said...

Very nice post Larry, looks like a great spot.


Erica Houskeeper said...

Wow - your owl photo is so beautiful. Your stillness definitely paid off!

Larry said...

Lynne-Thanks-I had a feeling that I would hear from you on this post.I remember that you mentioned on a couple of occasions that sitting quietly to observe nature is the method that you prefer.I think that trying to remain quiet while sitting in one place is an underrated skill.

Kim-thanks-Spring will soon be here.

Chris-I try to seek out a spot that is near a slow runnning stream or near some interesting habitat.There has also been times when I've stayed still but didn't see much.

forestal-It was suprisingly nice.I've been on field trips with the Middletown Audubon that we parked at the entrance then walked along the railroad tracks but I've never walked those trails before.

Erica-It's always a good day when an owl lands near you.

Kelly said...

...I really enjoyed this post. The thought of just sitting and watching an owl for 20 minutes is wonderful. I've never photographed a Barred Owl because I usually only catch them as they are flying away. Your photo is beautiful.

Mary said...

Larry, I was happy to hear from you! Looks like you're blogging more often than me... Great post! I always love the humor in your blog posts. You're really working your camera well!

I'd flip if an owl flew into a tree nearby and watched me. Wow!


JRandSue said...

Every Image a winner Larry,my favourite has to be the Barred Owl.
Outstanding photography,magic.

Larry said...

Kelly-Thanks-I rarely see owls but Barred owls are an exception. I've been lucky enough to have close encounters with them a few times.

Mary-Knowing the way you write, I could imagine the material you would come with about the conversation between the two of you(you and the owl that is).

John-thanks you--if only owls could land near me and I could have perfect lighting every time I went out.

Cindy said...

Very nice post, Larry. The pictures were great too. How amazing to see the owl!

Lana Gramlich said...

Kudos on the owl! I LOVE when stuff like that happens. As for breakfast with the birds, when the weekend weather permits, my husband & I breakfast out on the deck, watching "the kids" (the local birds,) flitting around our feeding area. These moments remind us of how very wonderful our lives are, of how it takes very little to be truly happy if one will just allow it to happen.
Don't worry on being busy & struggling with blogging. Everyone needs a break from time to time, of course! We will not abandon you! ;)

FAB said...

Hi Larry. We should all follow 'the sit and wait' method more often (with or without a sandwich) and let nature come to us. Love the Owl shot. Well done.

Larry said...

Lana-The simple things in life can often be the most rewarding.

Early-Thanks-I agree but I did enjoy the sandwich too.

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, what a wonderful experience with the owl! I would love to bird in this place. You make it sound like magic, in spite of the cold shoulder from the snowman. Don't worry. He will be gone soon and you will have the forest to yourself!

Birdinggirl said...

Great pictures Larry! I especially love the Nuthatch one. They hold a special place in my heart :) They're so fun to watch.

Ruth said...

I don't like sitting still either,and I don't drink coffee. But perhaps I will try the breakfast sandwich/lg coffee trick if it gets me a Barred Owl(!) and a Pileated Woodpecker the same day. Great pictures Larry.

Jochen said...

Larry, this is an amazing post. great photos, and very well written. Such an owl encounter must be extremely wonderful!

Cathy said...


A lovely way to fill a few late winter hours.

Loved the fact of the snowman giving you a cold shoulder.

Not for very long, I'll wager :-D

Unknown said...

I wasn't aware of River Highlands SP

Anonymous said...

What an enchanting picture of an owl!